Week One of National Novel Writing Month is behind us. As we embark upon week two, here are a few things to consider:
- If you have not started yet, there is still time. You only need 2,500 words a day to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month.
- If you started before today, that number is smaller.
November is a very challenging month. It is only 30 days. Camp NaNo in July gets 31 days. There is a major holiday at the end of the month, and while July 4th is a popularly observed U.S. holiday, for me, it is easier to get other things accomplished around July 4th compared to Thanksgiving. Of course, if you are the type of person to enjoy outdoor activities in July, perhaps November works better for you. I’m not one of those people; there are advantages to being an introverted hermit.
How did your Week One go? Writing in the evenings and weekend has gotten me past the half-way point already. If I keep this pace, I’ll hit 50,000 words around Nov. 18th. My novel won’t be finished at that point, though. It is book 2 of a trilogy. Book 1 clocked in at 110,000+ words before revisions. Book 2 will have to be about that length, so it behooves me to maintain a brisk pace. It is unlikely I’ll have a complete manuscript by the end of the month. I’ll have a beginning and an end, but the middle won’t be finished.
But that’s OK. As I said in my last blog post, NaNoWriMo is more about developing the discipline to write daily, which is the cornerstone of a successful writer. There are ways to boost your productivity. As with any bit of writing advice, this is what works for me: you may have different experiences.
Write in a distraction free environment. If you find yourself always finding just one other thing to do before you hunker down and write, change location. For example, I used to write at my desktop PC. The one that has all the games, in the room that has all my stuff. It was OK for a couple of years, but gradually became more and more difficult to get anything done. So, I switched to my laptop in my game room (for tabletop games… which I can’t play alone). There’s a Keurig so I can have hot beverages, a refrigerator so I can have cold beverages, and no games I’m currently playing on that computer. I can hook it up to speakers so I can listen to music and write away. It’s just across the hall from all my stuff, but it’s far enough removed that it’s much more distraction-free.
Don’t be afraid to take a break. Get up, walked around. Do something else that isn’t related to your writing. There’s no rule that says you can’t think about your novel while you’re doing these other things. I do a lot of thinking while I’m doing lawn work, cleaning, driving to work, or running errands. The majority of my writing prep is done in this fashion (which it why it probably looks like I’m distracted or talking to myself most of the time). When I’m doing this, I can build of quite a backlog in my head. When I sit down to write, it’s like opening the floodgates (Saturday, for example, I cranked out almost 6,000 words in probably no more than 3-4 hours of writing spread out over the morning, afternoon, and evening; it wasn’t one marathon session).
Engage the NaNoWriMo community. Need to bounce ideas off someone? That’s what the forums are for! I often do this on Twitter or Google+, too. I don’t find the Word Sprints and other mini-challenges appealing though. They’re often topical and not relevant to my novel. Recent sprints were things like “include the word escape” or “bear.” I would’ve spent more time trying to figure out how to work that into my narrative than actually doing the sprint. However, if you’re just totally winging things or are stumped, then these exercises can be valuable. It might be an interesting experiment one day to write something and incorporate as many sprints and word wars as you can. The narrative might be a hot mess, but it might be the next literary comedy masterpiece! You could be the next Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett.
As we go into Week Two, you may find it harder to stay on track, or maybe you’re just not feeling the plot. It happens, it’s part of the challenge. When all else fails, make something explode.